What’s with Social Networking?

It has been a while since I wrote in english, umm well, since I updated my blog actually.  I have been terribly busy recently, not to mention my procrastinating act. Thus in the past month my blog has been neglected.

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So, in this peaceful weekend I would like to write about social networking. Im sure you guys are familiar (if not obsessed) with social-networks. Of course, as a part of Gen Y (are you familiar with the term baby boomers, gen X, and gen Y? if you aren’t just google it), I have several accounts in those sites, though my active account is only facebook.

Gen Y

Gen Y

If you are a frequent visitor of facebook, take a look at your friends. From thousands of contacts, how many friends actually you know in person.  My guess is not more than a quarter or maybe less. Your sea of contacts might be a clue to your motive. Why would you have to put so many friends in your contact? Do you wanna show to the world how your friends are scattered throughout the world? Or if you are single, does more contact means bigger chance to get a boy/girlfriend to you? Or maybe you just have the lust to show off about how good and successful you are now.

According to Scientific American Mind Magazine January-February edition 2010, the newest thinking highlights how social-networking sites affect the expression of human traits; loneliness, self-esteem, narcissism, and addiction.

Let’s start with loneliness. We used to think that loneliness is physical isolation from other people. In this mobile era, the definition is no longer relevant. Nowadays people feel distress when they believe that their social relationship have less meaning than they should. People who try to get rid of loneliness by piling up contacts to replace face-to-face interaction with online relationship would likely end up to be lonely. Research conducted  by Andrew Campbell and his colleagues from University of Sydney showed the time spent interacting online is unrelated to higher level of anxiety or depression – typical symptoms of loneliness. In other word, you will get no psychological benefit from social networking only by forming relationship online.

If so, how to gain benefit from social networking? Study by gerontology doctoral student Shima Sum and her colleagues from University of Sydney found that using social networking diminished loneliness when online contacts are also offline contacts. It is not surprising is it?

The next interesting thing about social networking is it allows you to show off.  Social networking offer an easy way to show yourself; you can put your vacation photos, shout smart and reflective status updates, or maybe make a good writing or poetry and tag as many friends as possible.  Nah, the question now, is it true that social networking can boost your self-esteem? Or it is just a media to feed your narcissism? Apparently, according to study conducted by psychologist from Michigan State University showed facebook use actually boost self-esteem, conferring better social skills, and greater feelings of contentment. The groups who gain profound positive effects were teenagers, yes teenagers who are craving for world’s attention.

Well, not only teenagers who are craving for world’s attention, social networking is also becoming new havens for those who overly pleased with themselves. You can easily spot a narcissist from facebook pages, usually those who have huge number of contact as their object to their narcissistic lust and glamorous appearance.

Then we come to the most dangerous effects of social networking; addiction. Let me give you a figure; Nielsen Online reported that the 70 million facebook members in the U.S spent 233 million hours on the site in April 2009, up from 28 million hours by 23 million members previous April— 175 percent increase. Let’s assume they go online during work hours, can you imagine how social networking can reduce productivity?

Social Networking

Why social networking has such a pull? In Scientific American Mind, they explained how social-networking become a magnet for people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Social networking offer instant gratification without so much effort. The reward serves as energy to keep doing it. As a result the effect is hard to resist. It is like gambling, video games and watching porn, somehow we couldn’t resist the temptation.

Oh, one more, have you realized recently that many couples these days arguing on facebook? Don’t they realize it is a public space? Sometimes I also found people who instead of discussing disagreement with their boy/girlfriend, they passive-aggressively showed their disagreement  via facebook with nagging wall post or constantly change their relationship status only to mess with their boy/girlfriend.

Why do people tend to bring their private relationship problems to public space? I think they are trying to let their supporters and friends know about what his/her boy/girlfriend put him/her through, both sad and pathetic in my opinion.  It is true that relationship will do much better with friends and family support. But constantly arguing on facebook just to point out who’s the bad guy, will more likely convince their friends they shouldn’t be together in the first place.

lamebook

Like it or not, social-networking will invade even more areas in our lives. The distance between online and offline will eventually disappear. The challenge is to keep our sanity. No matter how online activity has diluted our real-world, social connectivity is still lacking of essential element of communication such as body language and touch. That’s why face-to-face interaction is still important to our brain, because it needs richness from real interaction, not only virtual.

Loneliness, self-esteem, narcissism and addiction are expressions of human traits that can get worse with the blooming of social-networking sites. However bad the effects of social networking might have, it is interesting to see the paradigm-shift and cultural transformation. Well, soon we will enter the world of connectedness and it would change the way we feel and the way we see ourselves.

P.S: If you have free time, rather than facebook, try to take a peek on lamebook.com. they record the funniest and lamest from facebook.  Seriously it is soo hilarious !! it always gives me a good laugh.

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